cover image Grayling’s Song

Grayling’s Song

Karen Cushman. Clarion, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-544-30180-1

Bringing fantasy elements to the historical terrain she is known for, Newbery Award–winner Cushman (The Midwife’s Apprentice) introduces timid Grayling Strong, who must stop a terrible dark entity that has invaded the land and caused those with magic—including Grayling’s “wise woman” mother, Hannah—to become rooted to the ground, their skin slowly turning to bark. Having no magic of her own, Grayling embarks on this quest equipped with a few magically infused songs and a basket full of potions intended to keep her safe. Shortly into her journey, however, a curious mouse finds his way into the basket and consumes the magic inside, leaving Grayling with a loyal, talking, shape-shifting pet she names Pook. They are soon joined a handful of spirited compatriots with questionable magic: Auld Nancy, a weather witch; her spoiled great-niece, Pansy; and an enchantress named Desdemona Cork. Written in Cushman’s characteristic straightforward, character-focused style, the story focuses less on plot, which is fairly formulaic, and more on Grayling’s path to discovering her own strength, wit, and determination. Ages 10–12. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (June)